"Wheat is being sown in the country with expectations that it will cover 22.34 million acre area this Rabi season." — File Photo

MULTAN: Punjab agriculture minister Malik Ahmad Ali Aulakh has said that wheat production target for the Rabi season 2010-11 has been set at 25 million ton, some 1.5 million ton above the assessed national food requirement at 23.5 million ton.

While talking to newsmen at Fatehpur in district Layyah, Aulakh said that Punjab produces almost 76 per cent of the national wheat production and sowing has already begun in the province, according to a release issued by media liaison unit of Punjab agriculture department on Monday.

Wheat is being sown in the country with expectations that it will cover 22.34 million acre area this Rabi season, Aulakh said.

He added that 16.88 million acre area will be brought under wheat sowing in Punjab this year just below last year's cultivated area of above 17 million acre. Last year's production was recorded at 17.9 million ton. Punjab's production target has been set at 19.205 million ton this year.

He said that Punjab gets 90 per cent of its wheat production from irrigated areas and rest from rain-fed areas.

Aulakh said that Punjab government attaches top priority to the agriculture sector because it provides almost 45 per cent job opportunities to the people which goes up to 65 per cent in rural areas.

DG Agriculture (extension and adaptive research) Dr. Anjum Ali Buttar, DG research and pest warning Dr. Noor Ul Islam, chief executive Punjab agriculture research board Dr. Mubarak Ali, besides experts from Ayub Research Institute Faisalabad were also present.

DG agriculture extension said that thirteen wheat varieties have been recommended by the experts for sowing. Some varieties including Sahar 2006, Shafaq 2006, Fareed 2006, Meraj 2008, Ufq 2002 can give better production.

He said that 375 storage facilities were available in Punjab to store wheat while new modern storage facilities were being built to enhance storage capacity by 300,000 tons.

DG research Dr. Noorul Islam told newsmen that new wheat varieties have been developed and provided to growers which can give better yield amid hot weather and shortage of water.

These varieties included Lasani 2008, AARI 2010 and 'Aas'.

Lasani 2008 has already been multiplied and was available for all growers. However, AARI 2010 and Aas have been given to registered growers only to multiply these varieties for their mass scale distribution among growers. An official meeting to finally pass these varieties will be held sometime this month.

Some more disease resistant varieties were also in the pipeline.

Dr Mubarak Ali said that Punjab government has recommended to the federal government to export 2 million ton wheat so that government should not run out of space for wheat storage and earn foreign exchange at a time when prices of wheat have gone up in the international market.

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